AUGUSTA, Ga. (KMOX) — They filled out the group with the Honorary Starters for round one. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit opening drives.
Ceremonial for all, historic for others. Despite having a tee time more than six hours later it was worth the early wake up call for three times Masters champion Phil Mickelson to be in the first tee gallery. According to Player, the trio represents more than 350 tournament wins and 56 majors wins including those on the Senior tours. Asked which of the group hit the longest drive Nicklaus quipped, “I don’t think any of us can see that far now.” Adding, “We can hear them land, though.”
After the soaking rains early in the week in Augusta, three time Masters winner Phil Mickelson declared the four days would be a birdie fest dominated by the long hitters. All those birdies must be scheduled for the weekend. Round one produced an over par scoring average (always skewed higher by the scores of amateurs and past their prime former champions in the field). None-the-less the 95 players in the field recorded 279 holes under par and 376 holes over par.
In golf a ringer score reflects the lowest score ever recorded on each hole through the course. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is working on a place in the ‘reverse’ ringer scores for Augusta National. Last year Stenson equaled the highest score ever on the par 3 4th hole an 8. Leading the tournament in round one heading to the tee at eighteen he played seven awful shots and one good tap in for another eight – tied for the all time high score again. As they say there are no good eights in golf.
Dan Reardon is Golf Editor at KMOX Radio in St. Louis. He can be heard throughout the week on “America’s Sports Voice.”